TOKYO, May 29 — China and Japan have agreed to resume regular talks between their ruling parties for the first time in six years, officials from Japan’s coalition government said today.

Ties between Asia’s top two economies have been strained by issues including Japan’s concerns about China’s maritime activities in the East and South China Seas, and China’s protests against Japan’s release of treated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

But the agreement to restart the talks comes after Chinese Premier Li Qiang praised what he called a restart in relations with US-allied Japan and South Korea after their leaders met for the first three-way summit in four years on Monday. The three agreed to revive trade and security dialogue hampered by global tensions.

Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, reached the agreement on talks with Liu Jianchao, who leads the Communist Party’s body in charge of managing ties with foreign political parties, during Liu’s visit to Tokyo on Wednesday.

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Liu “specifically requested to restart the Japan-China ruling party exchange council. Secretary-General Motegi expressed his approval”, Tatsuya Ito, an LDP lawmaker present at the meeting, told reporters.

Makoto Nishida, a lawmaker from the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito who was also present at the talks, confirmed a decision had been made for the exchanges to resume.

The details of how and when the talks would start have not yet been finalised, Ito added.

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The ruling party talks were previously held around once a year but have not taken place since 2018.

Liu, who has kept up a busy schedule since he came into office in 2022, stoking expectation he is being groomed to become China’s next foreign minister, also met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa earlier today.

Kishida told Liu that he wanted to build stable and constructive ties with China and that exchanges between political parties were important for developing relations. — Reuters